Jar hacks 101

When it comes to getting creative with a jar, you can use your imagination and be inspired by pretty much anything you have at hand to make something exciting. But, of course, there are some basic things that’ll make the process easier for you. So I’ve put together this page, which is somewhat of a beginner’s checklist that’ll help you get started.

Things you’ll need:

1. Jars

This is a no brainier. Can’t do jar hacks without jars! Glass jars are my favourite to work with. So start saving all those pasta sauce jars and Nutella containers for some exciting jar hacks. Plastic jars are another option. They’re great to work with too. A lot of brands have started using plastic jars for their packaging and reusing these jars for your creative projects is a great way to make the planet a better place. However, I would recommend avoiding plastic jars for any hacks related to food and edibles.

2. A hot glue gun

These are an absolute life saver for any craft project! They’re easy to use and dry in seconds (no wait times, yay!) You can buy your hot glue gun for less than £8 at a craft store like The Works or Hobby Craft. Or save a trip to the craft store (although a trip to the craft store is never a chore!) and order yours online. It’s also a good idea to stock up on glue sticks (trust me, you’ll need them). Transparent glue sticks are super versatile, but you can go wild and get yourself some coloured glue sticks too! If you’re buying your glue gun and glue sticks separately, make sure you check that the size of glue sticks you’re buying is compatible with your glue gun.

3. A variety of glues and sticky bits

Yes,  hot glue works for pretty much anything, but sometimes when you need to glue on something delicate, having a stick of super glue at hand helps. I use the 8 pack super glue from the pound store and it works just as well as any other brand of super glue would. PVA glue or tacky glue is best when you want to decoupage your jar. You can get a 1litre bottle for £4 at Hobby Craft. I have seen pound stores sell a 1litre bottle for a pound and these work just as well as the ones from craft stores. Glue dots and double sided tape come in handy as well.

4. Embellishments

You know how you go to a craft shop and you see all those gorgeous little embellishments and you want to buy them all but you’re not sure what project to use them in? Jar hacks are a great was to incorporate any theme or embellishments. Remember, you don’t have to always *buy* your embellishments! A day of seashell hunting at the beach (also a great activity to do with the kids) will result in equally beautiful embellishments for your project as a trip to your local craft store.

5. Rope

Of course this is not and absolute necessity to get started on your jar projects, but I personally love the rustic feel that a bit of rope or twine can bring to your jar project. You can get a 10 m bundle of rope for less than £4 here.

6. Polymer clay

Like the rope, polymer clay is totally a personal preference. I love making my own custom embellishments and using polymer clay gives me that freedom. It’s quite easy to work with, but remember most polymer clays need to be baked in an oven to set. If you haven’t got an oven, but would like to work with clay for your projects, consider using air dry clay

Prepping your jar

Glass jars

Another advantage of choosing to work with glass jars is that the prep process is quite simple for a glass jar. If you’re using an old mason jar or if your jar has no labels, all you need to do is give it a wash to make sure it’s clean and you’re good to go. If you’re using a pasta sauce jar or any jar with a label, simply soak the jar in hot (almost boiling) water for around 5 minutes and you should see the label peel off on its own leaving no sticky residue behind. 

Plastic jars

Getting rid of labels on a plastic jar is slightly more work than prepping a glass jar (see why I prefer the glass jars?) It seems like getting a sticker label of a plastic jar should be a simple task, but we’ve all been through at least one time when we’ve tried and failed because even if you manage to somehow get the label off completely, there’s always a sticky residue that gets left behind. But fear not! Where there’s a will, there’s a way! Here are a few tips to consider if you’re working with plastic jars:

1. Think about your project. If you’re going to cover your jar completely in fabric or rope, you might not need to get rid of the label at all. You can simply work over it and get the exact same results.

2. Soaking the label in cooking oil for a day loosens the sticker adhesive making it easier to remove the label later. Spraying cooking oil spray over the label is an alternative to this method.

3. Peanut butter and mayonnaise are your go-to products if you need to get rid of that annoying sticky residue. The oils in the peanut butter and/or mayo help break down the adhesive. Cover the sticky residue in a thin layer of peanut butter or mayo and let it sit for half an hour. Then, wipe of with a sponge and warm soapy water.

4. Nail polish remover is a great way to get rid of the label and the sticky residue. Soak the jar in nail polish remover for half an hour and let it do its magic before you try and peel the label away.

5. A 90% solution of rubbing alcohol works wonders when it comes to getting rid of sticker adhesive on plastic jars. Simply pour a small amount of the rubbing alcohol on a rag and scrub away at the label for a few minutes to get rid of the label.

Whatever method you use, make sure you wash your jar well before you start crafting!

Using polymer clay

Polymer clay is an extremely simple and versatile medium to work with. One of the biggest advantages of working with polymer clay is that you can cure it by baking it in a home oven. Even if you don’t have access to an oven, there are many types of polymer clays that you can harden by air drying. If you are using an oven to cure your creations, read your manufacturer’s instructions carefully to avoid any problems. Over heating polymer clay can release toxic fumes.

Using air dry clay

If you’re taking up this project with kids or you don’t have easy access to bake your polymer clay, air dry clay is an excellent alternative. There are a lot of pros to working with air dry clay. Firstly, since the piece won’t be baked, you don’t have to worry about any small structures burning or breaking off. You can also experiment with colour while using air dry.

All set and need some inspiration?

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